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Environment and society

Environment and society [12KB]

The interaction between society and the natural environment is an important area of sociological research.

In our industrialised world, it is sometimes hard to remember that we are a part of nature. Even in mega-cities, such as Beijing or London, the natural environment influences how we behave, from the availability of the food we eat to the safety of the places in which we live.

Human beings inevitably influence what happens to the environment. For instance, most scientists agree that human behaviour is responsible for the climatic changes we are now experiencing. As we expand our economies and urbanise our societies we displace more of nature’s resources and risk irreversibly changing the way the environment behaves.

The Olympic Games is a mega-event that has become an important part of our world culture. However, hosting such a colossal event places huge demands on the natural environment and has the potential to contribute to environmental problems such as climate change, pollution, and over use of natural resources. In an age of environmental concern, critics may ask if we can justify environmental destruction for a sporting event.

Proponents of sustainable development may argue that if handled in an environmentally sensitive way, the Olympics can help the environment by providing resources to the host city and by spreading positive environmental messages throughout society.

The concept of sustainable development, allied to the potential benefits of resourcing an Olympic Games infrastructure, can provide an answer. As the World Commission on the Environment suggested in 1987, sustainable development 'meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs' through a careful balance of economics, society and the environment.

Some consider the concept of sustainable development to be a new form of environmentalism in that it does not concern itself solely with environmental problems, aiming instead to expand developing economies whilst maintaining an equitable pattern of resource use.

Those interested in issues of sustainability around the London 2012 Games might be interested in a number of reports by the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012. These reports are available to download via their website:

Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 - Reports

Getting started with the British Library's collections

Sustainable urban design: an environmental approach edited by Adam Ritchie and Randall Thomas, London: Taylor and Francis, 2009
London Reference Collections shelfmark: YK.2009.b.7782.
DS shelfmark: 4542.282000

Cudworth, Erika. Environment and society London: Routledge, 2002

London Reference Collections shelfmark: YC.2003.a.6114

DS shelfmark: m02/42070

Diamond, Jared. The rise and fall of the third chimpanzee
Radius, 1991.
London Reference Collections shelfmark: YK.1991.b.2697

Dresner, Simon. The principles of sustainability
Earthscan, 2008.
London Reference Collections shelfmark YK.2009.a.3172

Goudie, Andrew and Viles, Heather. The earth transformed: an introduction to human impacts on the environment
Blackwell, 1997.
London Reference Collections shelfmark: YC.1998.b.3607

; DS shelfmark: 99/17857 DSC

Kerski, Joseph and Ross, Simon. The essentials of the environment Hodder Arnold, 2005.
London Reference Collections shelfmark: YK.2006.a.18814

Light, Andrew and Rolston III, Holmes (eds.) Environmental ethics: an anthology
Blackwell, 2003.
DS shelfmark: 2107.591000 19

Lomborg, Bjørn The skeptical environmentalist: measuring the real state of the world
Cambridge University Press, 2001.
London Reference Collections shelfmark: YC.2001.b.1594

Pepper, David. The roots of modern environmentalism
Croom Helm, c1984.
London Reference Collections shelfmark: X.529/66784

DS shelfmark: 84/32187 DSC


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